Tuesday, June 30, 2009

God's Faithfulness

I am so humbled by the goodness of my God. Time and time again I fail Him or doubt Him. No, He's never given me any reason to doubt His goodness or faithfulness; it is me who gets in the way. I usually question or analyze everything to death - just ask those around me.

When I was in Uganda God was working on me in many different areas, and He hasn't stopped since I've been back. He stretched my faith in ways I can't even explain. I saw God provide, give me His love for people and face my greatest areas of weakness.

I changed my major 4 times in college. Do you know why? No, it was not because I couldn't decide on a career; it was that I refused to take public speaking. My knees would go weak and I would feel sick to my stomach every time I had to talk to more than 2 people at a time. You know what God made me do when I was in Africa? Yep, you got it - speak! I shared my testimony with literally hundreds of kids.

Well, I boarded the plane heading back to America. One of the thoughts I had was, well at least I won't have to do that again! Wrong! I was asked to speak to my children's classes about my trip. I put it off for days. Finally I went and it was such a blessing to be able to tell my kid's classmates about Christ. I saw some of the children's eyes grow wide as they understood things.

Once more I breathed a sigh of relief when that was finished, but God wasn't (and isn't) done with me yet. Do you remember Arthur? He's the one who we want to come and visit the US. To apply for his visa, I had to call area churches and see if they would be interested in having us speak. Notice that "us". Yes, I will have to talk and this time to adults, yikes!

I guess we will find out if anyone can die from public speaking:)

Once again, I say God is good and faithful. May He ever be stretching me to look more like Him!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Vac Man




Yes, it's true. I have my very own vac-man. He is my neighbor who just happens to love vacuuming. As I speak, or should I say write, he is doing the living room. He just finished the stairs and if he has time I know he'll do the sunroom. I bet you all are jealous now!

In reality, he is one of the sweetest teenagers I know. He will come over and spend an hour or two talking with my kids about God. They meet on the trampoline in our yard and discuss what they are learning in the Bible. How cool is that!

He graces me with the title "second mom". I feel so blessed.

Some day he plans to design his own vacuum cleaner. Trust me, this 13 year old boy knows everything there is to know about vacuums. Look for me on Oprah in 10 years saying, "He used to be MY vac-man"!

Friday, June 26, 2009

13 is a grand number


My eldest child turns 13 tomorrow. At times, I see glimpses of the man I envision him becoming. At other times, I see a little boy. In the next few years he will have to learn how to leave boyhood behind and reach forward to all that God has in store for him. I know many people dread the teen years but with this particular child I do not. This precious child would rather go to Africa than be given anything else in the world. Since he has been very little, he has loved people and been concerned about their salvation. He has led 2 of our children to the Lord and his Auntie. Years ago he gave away his favorite Bible because a boy in our neighborhood said he liked it. At night he prays that one day he will have a godly wife who will be content with little money. He knows that he wants to be either a pastor or missionary because he desparately wants people to know Jesus. What more could a mom possibly want! Happy Birthday my precious son! I love you so very much and look forward to watching you grow in the next year.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Comparing

I happen to be blessed to know many amazing Godly women. They are doing incredible things for the Kingdom. I mean AMAZING things. One young lady was used by God to heal a blind woman. Another friend has raised thousands of dollars to feed hungry children. Another is starting her own special needs orphanage in Liberia. The list goes on and on. These women have listened to God and followed His voice. I am proud of them and humbled to be called their friend. Then I turn my eyes upon myself and wonder what I'm doing wrong. Some days I feel like I can barely make it through parenting 6 kids. I met many women in Africa who were parenting 15 to 20 kids, 6 is just a drop in the bucket. God gently reminds me that He has called each of us to different things. I cannot compare myself to anyone else. I can only be faithful with what He has given me and keep my eyes looking up (not side-to-side).

God reminded me of something last night. A year ago someone we knew in Liberia needed food for him and his family. My oldest son overheard my husband and I discussing this issue. He went to his room and brought me back all of his money that he had received from his birthday. He said, "Mom, I was saving this for a video game but I think food is more important. Is there a way you can send it to Africa for me?" He gave me every last penny he had and we went to Walmart and sent the money. He never once looked back or thought twice about his decision. Oh how I love this child's heart! God has given me something grand to do - it is raising my children to love Him and have His heart; may I do it well!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

My Man



Tomorrow is Father's Day here in America. It's a day set aside to take time to think about the father you have been given. For some people, it is a hard day because they did not grow up with a loving father. For many years it was a hard day for me because my father died when I was young. A turning point came for me, though, the day a dear friend of mine shared with me that I still had a loving father - I just couldn't see him. From that moment on, I began to know my Heavenly Father. My life was forever changed! The best part is that this Father is perfect! He can do no wrong, He can never point me in the wrong direction.

In fact, God removed an ungodly man from my life and 6 months later gave me "My Man". Oh how good God is! I have been with Dale for 20 years, married for 17. I wouldn't trade a single moment I've spent with him. He is a God-fearing man who is sold out to Christ. He has loved me more than himself many times. He is an amazing father, a hard-worker and a very giving man. I am so glad he is mine! Thank you Lord for your wonderful blessings!

I love you, babes!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Computers. Facebook and My Integrity

A few weeks ago my nephew sent me a message on facebook. It said, "ganda - your home video". I had recently returned from Uganda and had posted a video to you-tube the day before. I thought he was commenting on my video and had just mistyped Uganda(leaving off the U). I opened the e-mail and immediately it sent horrific messages to my entire facebook list. Dale tried to remove the garbage from facebook. We thought he had succeeded, only to find out that the virus is wired to repost 3 hours later.

First, my Pastor calls to inform me that I've been spammed. Next, I get calls from dear friends whose children received vile messages. I was horrified! The worst of it was that it made people who have known me for a long time question my integrity. Oh how quickly garbage can infect everything around it.

Dale continued to work on my computer to rid it of the spam. Unfortunately, the virus infects more than just facebook. It makes ads appear instead of google, it shuts my computer down whenever it feels like it and it won't load pictures anymore.
I have to do many things through Dale's laptop. Well, I think he finally was tired of me interupting him for help. Yesterday he announced to me that he had ordered me a laptop! Keep in mind that the computer I work on now is around 10 years old and the monitor is even older. Also keep in mind that there is nothing my husband enjoys buying me more than electronics (and this will be a business write-off). Usually I am not very grateful for the things he wants to get me. I would rather have a walk with him or some other kind of cheap date. This time I am very grateful! I have been praying about what my involvement is to be in Uganda. A new computer can be a great help in this endeavor. May God get all of the glory through this! He CAN take something negative and turn it into something He can use for His glory.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Where my mind is...







I never really left Africa. My heart is still there.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

bugs

Just thought y'all would like to know that yesterday my husband was dared to eat a live caterpillar by his nieces and nephews. I am happy to report that he obliged. The kids were a mixture of delighted and disgusted. I think I'll wait until tomorrow to kiss him :)

Friday, June 12, 2009

My kiddos







It finally has been acting like summer here in Wisconsin. I took the opportunity to take a few photos.

Meet Ruth




Here is the wonderful woman, Ruth, that I mentioned last time. I look forward to meeting her in Heaven!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Our citizenship

Do you know that as U.S. citizens we can get a visa to almost anywhere in the world? Do you know what a privilege that is? I took this for granted until I started meeting people who are denied again and again the right to leave their country. No matter what atrocities are taking place in their land, they are stuck. During my quiet time with the Lord, He revealed some things to me. As U.S. citizens we can go to Africa, buy a visa at the airport and if things get rough we can be on a plane headed back to America. What if we decided to move to Uganda and give up our citizenship here, becoming Ugandan citizens. You would say we were crazy! Why on earth would we give up the ability to go anywhere. Well, that's just what Jesus did. Think about it, He gave up His citizenship in Heaven to come to earth. He willingly left everything. Are we willing to do the same?

In my last post, I mentioned a place I love - Rapha. The man who shephards the children there is Arthur. He married an amazing woman named Ruth who had the vision for putting children into foster families instead of orphanages. Ruth devoted her life to helping children find families, love and Jesus. Last fall Ruth died unexpectedly. In her short life, she touched the lives of so many. Since then, Arthur has assumed the role as the leader of Rapha. He also is a teacher and the father to 5 children. When I was in Uganda, God laid it upon my heart to try and get Arthur over here to stay with us for awhile. I had no idea why or how. I've had some crazy ideas before but this seems really wild, I know. So, I come home and share my idea with Dale (lets bring a guy over that I've known for 5 days) and guess what he says...do it!! Okay, we are all nuts. Living for the Lord is usually out of the ordinary, though. We are now waiting to see if Arthur can get a visa to come for this summer. We know if God started this, He will be the one to see it through. When and if Arthur comes, it will be because God has opened the doors and has a plan. Here are some pictures of Arthur (see he's not the serial killer type)!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

I've fallen in love again

...and no, I'm not cheating on my husband! I fell in love with a group of children who are part of Bethesda International (also known as Rapha). I spent 3 days getting to know the children, teachers and caretakers there. The kids taught us hand games, how to stick grass in your ears to keep your holes open, which type of grass to floss your teeth with and how to sing beautiful praise songs. We sat on top of a hill overlooking the amazing countryside of Jinja. The children encircled me and asked me question after question. Let me say, they did not ask simple questions like "what is your name?" No, they asked questions that cut to the core of who I am. They asked me why I couldn't be their mom, would I ever want to be their mom, could I eat what they eat and live like they do, will I go back to America and forget about them. No, sweet children, I will never forget about you. I can't. God reminds me of you every single day. Your songs resonate through my mind. The memory of your smiles make me smile. Your questions inspire me to think globally.

Two instances run through my mind again and again. The first took place while chatting with the older girls of Rapha. Boys were playing soccer near by and the ball took a curve landing on my head. I had placed my sunglasses on my head so I could better see the girls. Needless to say, my glasses broke. Immediately, one of the girls looked me in the eyes and said "What now? You'll just go back to America and buy another pair, won't you?" Normally, yes; this time, no. How could I when I have stared into the eyes of poverty. In fact, I have found it very difficult to even go to the grocery store since I've been back. We have so many choices available and the kids in Africa have so few. The verse that God keeps reminding me of is "To those who have been given much, much will be required." I have been given so much. My list of blessings from God could fill several pages. May my precious Lord have a list just as long detailing times I have given out of my love for Him. I know my salvation is not based on how much I do, but oh how I long to please the One who saved me.

The second instance took place after we had taught the kids a Bible lesson. We shared with them John13:1-17, where Jesus washes the disciples' feet. After the lesson, we had the kids fill basins with water and we washed every childs feet. As I was washing one little girl's, I noticed a sizable sore on her leg. I had brought a traveling first aid kit, so I grabbed a band-aid out and put it on her leg. Before long, I had children from all over the village lined up to get a band-aid. The wounds kept getting more severe and my supplies ran out. I wanted to cry as little girls brought me babies who were sickly and thought that I could heal them. I prayed for these children and I still pray for them. How I wish a band-aid would make everything better!

The kids sang a song for us that I just loved. It was called "Jesus is the Hope of Africa". Here it is for your enjoyment:
video

Friday, June 5, 2009

She wants to go to Africa

...but not for any of the reasons you may think. There has been a lot of talk about our adopted children's birth moms. We actually spoke with Gabriella's mom on the phone recently and were able to send her some rice. Both Josiah and Brie (as she is affectionately known to us as) have asked if I will someday take them back to Africa. Of course my answer is YES. Next question is, "can I see my black ma?". My answer is "yes, when you are older." Well, Olivia is trying to process all of this. A few days ago she announced, "When I get older, I'm going to Africa and I'm going to see my black ma, too!" Go ahead, just try to convince my strong-willed girl that she does not have a drop of african blood in her! Oh how my children make me laugh.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Frustration

On my second day in Africa, I went to an orphanage called Bethany Village. It is an amazing place; a vision of what children look like when they are well-cared for and sponsored. Half of the fun going to Bethany was getting there. First, we took a boat across Lake Victoria (once we even had a stow-away cockroach on board with us - African sized! I was told to flick it into the water, which I did. Our Ugandan friend David could not believe I would do that. He said he's never seen a Mzungu who didn't scream hysterically.) After the boat, we hopped on a boda-boda (motorcycle). It was rainy season at the time I was there. Imagine dodging mud-puddles, cows and vehicles as I traveled about 2 miles back into the bush. I was in Heaven. I have always felt that I was made to live in Africa...perhaps someday.

At the end of our boda-boda ride we found ourselves at Bethany Village. It was there that I met Jackie, a 14 year old girl that I dearly love. I spent 3 days getting to know her and helping her to do her chores. She shared with me her life story and the pain it entails. She is happy now. She has a sponsor, food, clothes, an education and a family. Still, her present circumstances do not erase her past.

One of the saddest moments with Jackie was when she told me that her sponsor has only written to her once in 4 years. She wanted to know why he didn't like her. Oh how my heart broke for this precious girl. I'm sure her sponsor has no idea how his lack of words hurt her, how she feels rejected. I thought of my own children that I sponsor. How often do I write to them? Have I written enough that they know I really truly care about them?

I left Jackie with a promise...I would write to her often. When I returned to America, I looked in my money pouch for her e-mail address and it wasn't there. I had everyone else's that I had collected but not hers. How could I lose hers? I was mad at myself, frustrated. After many e-mails to various people in Uganda, I still do not have her e-mail. She thinks I, too, do not care for her. My heart can hardly stand it. She doesn't know that I have thought of her every single day. She doesn't know that I am praying for her. Oh Lord, please let someone answer my e-mail and give me her address.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Introspection


Ever since I returned from Africa, I have spent a lot of time thinking about all that I saw. I'm not sure I have even been able to process half of what I witnessed. I will try to devote one post a day to something that made an impression on me. Today I am going to start with Northern Uganda, since that is what my most recent post is about. One of the last days we were in Soroti, we traveled northeast about 2 hours to a location where many people had been internally displaced. This place was unlike any other that we had seen prior. Indescribable hunger was all around us. There was no joy, no smiles, no songs to welcome us. Everywhere you looked, children had orange hair - a sign of malnutrition. Mothers tried to nurse babies, but it's hard to produce milk when you haven't eaten in days. I have been hungry. I have NEVER been starving. Two of my children have been, though. Once they were in such desparation that their birth moms made the difficult decision to give them up for adoption. Once, my daughter had orange hair.

If you saw my daughter today, you would never know that she was once in such dire circumstances. You know why? She has been given food, love and a family that cares for her well-being. You have the opportunity to make a difference in the life of a child (minus adoption costs :) ). Please consider sponsoring a child and make a long-term difference in his/her life. I am not promoting that it has to be with a certain organization. I have really liked what I have seen with Children's HopeChest and Compassion, though. If you cannot afford monthly supoport, would you consider donating 5, 10 or 15 dollars to Children's HopeChest to help feed a starving child like the girl in the photo? She is real. She is not just a picture. I met her. She really is starving. Click on the donate button on the sidebar if God is leading you to help the children of Uganda.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Being a Good Samaritan





There are people DYING in Uganda right now. There are children who's bellies are hungry and aching. There are mamas who are too weak to stand and babies begging to be held. There are people trapping termites hoping for food and eating dung in helplessness. DO NOT CAVE TO DESPAIR. YOU CAN DO SOMETHING.

Remember Jesus story of the Good Samaritan? Remember how his very neighbors walked right by him? They probably looked at him with pity. . .probably thought "oh poor guy, that breaks my heart" but the fact is THEY DID NOTHING.


What will you do? These children are starving. . .

For $0.14, we can feed someone a meal of posho and beans. (posho is cornmeal, which is filling and beans are protein). Take that in for a moment. . .

$0.14 a meal

$2.86 for 20 days

$1 per FAMILY

$20 feed a family for 20 days.

Please join with me and Children's HopeChest and be a Good Samaritan to these people. Give them hope that someone in the world actually cares about them and show them the love of Jesus.

(CLICK HERE TO GIVE NOW) (note: please write FEED THE FORGOTTEN in the notes section)